The free agent season is only nearly two weeks old and already some teams have found ways to improve considerably, at least on paper, while others have lost crucial elements of their roster.
Whether by transaction or by awarding contracts, the general managers are trying to close the gaps in their respective teams. Some seem to succeed while others seem to fail miserably.
Obviously, the summer is still not over and the real test will be done at the start of the 2022-2023 campaign. But until then, here are the NHL offseason winners and losers so far.
: Claude Giroux (free agent, LW), Alex DeBrincat (trade, LW), Cam Talbot (trade, G)
: Matt Murray (transaction, L), Filip Gustavsson (transaction, L)
: Josh Norris (C)
So far, the summer of 2022 belongs to Pierre Dorion. The CEO has been very active and not afraid to think outside the box.
First, Dorion managed to get his hands on forward Alex DeBrincat of the Chicago Blackhawks. For this, he will have had to pay 1st round choices (7th) and a 2nd round choice (39th) in 2022 in addition to a 3rd round selection in 2024.
Then, he managed to get rid of goaltender Matt Murray, who never delivered the goods to Ottawa, after his acquisition from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Dorion, however, had to withhold 25% of Murray’s salary in addition to giving up a 3rd round pick in 2023 and another 7th round pick in 2024 to the Toronto Maple Leafs to be able to send Murray to the Queen City. In return, he will have obtained only future considerations.
However, with the wiggle room he created for himself, he got hold of goaltender Cam Talbot by trading another goalie, Filip Gustavsson, to the Minnesota Wild.
Pierre Dorion’s summer continued with the hiring of forward Claude Giroux, who agreed to return home on a three-year, $19.5 million contract.
Added to all this is the contract extension granted to Josh Norris, for eight years and a tidy sum of $63.6 million.
Thus Dorion managed to create a top 6 composed of Brady Tkachuk, Giroux, Norris, Tim Stützle, DeBrincat and Drake Batherson. Still not bad.
Columbus Blue Jackets
: Johnny Gaudreau (free agent, LW), Erik Gudbranson (free agent, D)
: Olivier Bjorkstrand (transaction, AD)
: Patrik Laine (LW), Adam Boqvist (R), Jack Roslovic (C), Joonas Korpisalo (L)
It’s hard to ignore the Blue Jackets among the winners as Jarmo Kekalainen managed to add the most coveted unrestricted free agent, Johnny Gaudreau, to his team.
The small and dynamic forward agreed to a seven-year pact earning him an average annual salary of $9.75 million.
Gaudreau was tipped to land in the Eastern Conference, to be closer to his family, but other formations, like the New Jersey Devils, seemed to leave favorites.
Gaudreau joins Jakub Voracek and Patrik Laine, who recently signed a four-year, $34.8 million contract extension.
However, throughout that operation, the Jackets lost forward Oliver Bjorkstrand to the Seattle Kraken for two draft picks.
Photo credit: AFP
: Jeff Petry (trade, D), Jan Rutta (free agent, D), Ty Smith (trade, D)
: Mike Matheson (trade, D), John Marino (trade, D)
: Evgeni Malkin (C), Kristopher Letang (R), Kasperi Kapanen (AD), Rickard Rakell (AD), Casey DeSmith (G), Bryan Rust (AD)
General manager Ron Hextall may have lost Mike Matheson and John Marino to the blue line, but he’s replaced them with Jeff Petry, who will try to get back on his feet after a disastrous season in Montreal, and Ty Smith.
But it’s really the colossal work he has done to retain a core of players who have served the team very well in the past. Evgeni Malkin, Kristopher Letang, Kasperi Kapanen, Rickard Rakell, Bryan Rust and Casey DeSmith have all agreed to contract extensions.
: Max Domi (free agent, C), Andreas Athanasiou (free agent, C) Petr Mrazek (transaction, G)
: Kirby Dach (trade, C), Alex DeBrincat (trade, LW), Dylan Strome (free agent, C), Dominik Kubalik (free agent, LW), Kevin Lankinen (L)
After the departures of Brandon Hagel (Lightning) and Marc-André Fleury (Wild) last season, the Blackhawks continued to liquidate their assets by trading Kirby Dach to the Canadiens and Alex DeBrincant to the Senators. Additionally, they let go forwards Dylan Strome (Capitals) and Dominik Kubalik (Red Wings).
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will find the season rather long.
: Jonathan Huberdeau (trade, LW), MacKenzie Weegar (trade, D), Kevin Rooney (free agent, C)
: Johnny Gaudreau (free agent, LW), Matthew Tkachuk (trade, LW)
: Nikita Zadorov (D)
The Flames were heading to be the big losers this offseason, seeing two 100-point forwards in Johnny Gaudreau, who opted to leave Alberta, and Matthew Tkachuk, traded, change teams.
Gaudreau had turned down the Flames’ eight-year offer of unrestricted free agent status and subsequently agreed to a seven-year deal with the Blue Jackets.
But Brad Treliving saved the day in the Tkachuk trade. The forward did not seem at all happy with the negotiations with the Flames and was traded to the Florida Panthers. In return, Brad Treliving got another 100-plus point forward last season in Jonathan Huberdeau, while also acquiring defenseman MacKenzie Weegar and a 2025 first-round pick.
But, despite everything, on paper, the Flames still lost a lot.
Photo credit: Martin Chevalier / JdeM
: Jack Campbell (free agent, G),
: Mikko Koskinen (free agent, L), Zack Kassian (trade, RW)
: Brett Kulak (R), Evander Kane (LW)
Replacing Switzerland-bound Mikko Koskinen with Jack Campbell is an interesting bet for the Oilers, who have suffered greatly from their goaltending largesse in the past, though Mike Smith still led them to the Conference Finals. from the west last spring.
Retaining the services of Evander Kane, who was fired up in the last playoffs, and Brett Kulak is good news for Oilers fans.
Detroit Red Wings
: Andrew Copp (free agent, C), David Perron (free agent, LW), Ben Chiarot (free agent, D), Dominik Kubalik (free agent, LW), Ville Huso (transaction, L), Olli Maatta (free agent, LW) , D)
Steve Yzerman seems to be flying under the radar with his Red Wings rebuild. He didn’t make the headlines, but still attracted some interesting players to Detroit, including Quebecer David Perron.
Ben Chiarot will solidify the defence, along with Filip Hronek and Moritz Seider, while the additions of Andrew Copp, Dominik Kubalik and Ville Husso will bring some depth to the squad.
: Max Pacioretty (trade, LW), Brent Burns (trade, D), Ondrej Kase (free agent, RW)
: Vincent Trocheck (trade, C), Anthony DeAngelo (trade, D), Nino Niederreiter (free agent, RW), Max Domi (free agent, C)
Not a bad summer in Carolina as every player who left the club was replaced, at low cost. Max Pacioretty, obtained for nothing, will try to minimize the loss of Vincent Trocheck, who is now with Rangers. Brent Burns will take on the role of Anthony DeAngelo, traded to the Flyers, and Ondrej Kase will try to fill the void left by Nino Niederreiter, now in Nashville.
Photo credit: AFP
: Ryan McDonagh (trade, D), Kevin Lankinen (free agent, L), Nino Niederreiter (free agent, RW)
: David Rittich (free agent, L), Nick Cousins (free agent, C), Phillipe Myers (trade, R)
: Filip Forsberg (LW), Jeremy Lauzon (D)
The arrival of Ryan McDonagh will add a new dimension to the Predators defense. That of Nino Niederreiter will energize the attack. And the return of Filip Forsberg… well, he was vital.
Vegas Golden Knights
: Shea Weber (transaction, D)
: Max Pacioretty (transaction, AG), Evgeni Dadonov (transaction, AD)
: Reilly Smith (RW)
The Golden Knights missed the playoffs last season. However, instead of improving the team on the ice, the general manager, Kelly McCrimmon, has rather cleaned up the finances of its formation. Struggling with the big contracts of Jack Eichel, Mark Stone and Alex Pietrangelo, the DG got rid of $12 million by trading Max Pacioretty and Evgeni Dadonov. The problem is that he got absolutely nothing in return.
So, for a formation that seeks to return to the great dance of spring, it’s a failure.
: Ilya Lyubushkin (free agent, D), Eric Comrie (free agent, L), Kale Clague (free agent, D), Vinnie Hisostroza (free agent, C)
: Victor Olofsson (LW), Craig Anderson (G)
Bravo for the contract extension granted to Victor Olofsson.
It goes bad afterwards. No real need to elaborate to understand that the Sabers will remain in the bottom of the rankings.
New York Islanders
: Alexander Romanov (transaction, D)
The Islanders acquired defenseman Alexander Romanov from the Canadiens. And afterwards, here’s what Lou Lamoriello did to try to right his team’s boat: * cricket sounds *.
After a lackluster season last year, it’s probably not what the team’s fans were expecting.
: Mike Matheson (transaction, D), Kirby Dach (transaction, C), Evgeni Dadonov (transaction, RW)
: Jeff Petry (transaction, D), Shea Weber (transaction, D), Ryan Poehling (transaction, C), Alexander Romanov (transaction, D)
: Samuel Montembeault (L), Rem Pitlick (C), Chris Wideman (R), Michael Pezzetta (AG)
Kent Hughes has cleaned up the club’s finances without losing too much to the change. This is the beginning of its reconstruction. Can we expect to see the Canadians competitive next year? The odds are rather in the opposite direction.
But the CH seems extremely satisfied with the selection of Juraj Slafkovsky in the very first row of the last amateur auction.
Is Kent Hughes’ summer over? Probably not.
Photo credit: Martin Chevalier / JdeM